Delurking to ask for advice on ex.(long)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Delurking to ask for advice on ex.(long)
13
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 11:51am
Hi all. I've been a reader of these boards and have grown to respect and admire the wonderful advice many of you on this board give to those with problems--so now I'm hoping you can all help me out with some words of advice/encouragement. It's a long one, but i think having the whole history is the only way to get a fair reading...

A year and a half ago, I broke up with a guy who I can only describe as the perfect match for me--he truly made me happier than any other person I've ever known. And even though we didn't date very long (8 months) we often talked of marriage and kids, etc.

Unfortunately, while we were dating I was suffering terribly from some insecurity/self-esteem issues--so b/c I was scared of being hurt, I never told him how much I cared, but instead constantly sought his reassurance by telling him I was thinking of ending it because I wasn't sure he was right for me--and in the end I broke it off because I was scared he didn't care enough.

In retrospect I realized my fears were crazy--he & everyone else always told me how crazy he was about me-in fact his family and friends said they'd never seen him so in love and never heard him talk about a woman the way he talked about me. Unfortunately, when we were together he had no idea I felt the same way--i actually was one of those people who covered up my insecurities by coming off as very confident and strong by never appearing vulnerable and letting people see the real me. In fact, he told me when we were breaking up that he never thought I had really cared, and that now matter how hard he tried, he never seemed to be able to meet my expetations and that that made him feel awful about himself.

About a month after we broke up I approached him about getting back together--and he said he needed time to figure out if I was the "one" and he didn't want to jump back into things and have me break his heart all over again. We continued to keep in touch for a few months after that, and the last time we talked about it (about 5 months after the breakup) I said it looked he had decided not to ever give me a second chance--and he actually argued with me, saying that since I was the best girl he'd ever met, us getting back together was still something he could see happening down the road, but after all that had happened, at that particular time he wasn't ready for a relationship--not with me or with anyone else.

A few month after that he began dating a girl who he is still dating (its been almost a year now that he's dating her) and around that time he also stopped calling me--and I was heartbroken. But I have used the time to start therapy and have really been working hard on my self-esteem.

Well, last week we emailed for the first time in months, and for the very first time ever, I explained to him all the stuff I had realized about my behavior, how sorry I was for treating him the way I did when we were together and told him how much he had meant to me. He said he didn't know how to respond, that he had "recently" (a year??) started dating someone else, and that he hadn't thought it was fair to talk to me while he was dating her--and that she wasn't comfortable with him talking to me. But then, he told me he'd keep in touch, since "he just wanted to be able to call and talk every once in a while." After thinking about it, I replied and told him that b/c I cared about him so much, it would be too hard for me to just be his friend, and therefore we probably shouldn't talk while he continued to date her.

Now, normally I know the advice would be to forget him and walk away, but I can't get him out of my head. IN my whole life, I've never met someone I connected with as much as him (I'm 30)--even though I've tried very hard to meet and date others--no one else seems to measure up. Other than the problems my low self-esteem caused, we truly had a great relationship and really connected like I've never connected with anyone--and I know I he felt it too. The problem is, he too, is very vulnerable and scared of rejection and told me when we first broke up that he had never been hurt in his life like he was when we broke up and that he didn't ever want to go through that again. And I wonder if it is that fear of being hurt that keeps him from trying again with me? I really don't think he was just "bs"ing or keeping me on the back burner by telling me for so long after we broke up that we were still a possibility, I think if anything he was scared of being hurt and of me still not having changed.

I guess I'm just wondering if there's still any hope...if the fact that he wants to keep in touch despite his girlfriend asking him not to means something? Did I screw up by telling him not to talk to me while he's still dating her? Is there anything I can do to show him I really have changed and make him want to give me a second chance? Guys, have you ever dated one girl while trying to figuring out if another girl is the right one for you? Any encouraging stories out there from someone who has reunited with an ex after a long absence?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 12:20pm
There are stories of people reuniting after a long absence, but I think they're the exception and not the rule. I think it is so great that you're dealing with your issues and becoming the kind of person you want to be. More important than anything else in life is loving yourself. You can't love someone else or trust in their love for you if you don't. That being said, some bridges are better off burned.

If you've been reading the board for a while, then I'm sure you know the story of my relationship with J. It is still an island I visit in my mind every so often because we had some very happy times and because he's the only guy I've ever been able to "connect" with on all of the levels that are important to me. I was pretty immature when we were together. So was he. We've both grown up an awful lot in the last two years, but the bridge has been burned. There's no going back. You can only move forward.

I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that everything works out in the end. It may not always be the way we hoped but I think when it does happen, the rightness of it surprises us. There are two possibilities here. This relationship happened so that you could recognize the inner work that needed to happen in order for you to be truly happy with your next relationship or at some point the two of you may have a second chance. The only way this works, though, is by letting go of the past and truly starting over. There are few people who can actually do this.

I know this wasn't the kind of advice you were looking for, but the time you've been apart has been longer than the time you were together. He deserves to be able to make his own choices about his happiness and right now his choice is to see someone else. With the number of people in the world, I do not believe that there's only one person for everyone and that if you screw that up oh well, tough luck. He may have been one of the people you could be happy with, but I promise there will be another. And when you meet him, you'll have worked out all of your self-esteem issues and you won't feel the need to hold yourself back from him. He won't have any trust issues because you treated him with distance before, and he'll value you just as much as you value him.

Of course, this is all just conjecture because my crystal ball is in the shop, but I think you're going to be fine. Regret is a tough thing to live with, but you never will know how things would have worked out between you had you been more honest about your feelings. There are too many variables.

Good luck, and welcome to the board. I hope you stick around. You have a valuable perspective to offer, and we could always use more of that.

~Artie


Edited 3/28/2003 2:04:43 PM ET by artemisoracle

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 12:29pm
Artie gave great advice. I totally agree. I wish you the best of luck and I hope things work out on your behalf.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 1:05pm
OMIGAWD - that is MY story!

Ours was an exceedingly complicated relationship, complete with a myriad of extenuating circumstances. It involved international borders, nefarious third party trouble-makers and other distractions... *giggle* ...but we prevailed!

Yes, there is hope. Yes, it is possible. Yes, it can all come true. There are absolutely NO guarantees however. Nor any magical combination of words and gestures that will make it work. It truly depends on his feelings and his willingness to take another chance on you.

I commend you though; the VERY best thing you could have possibly done is seek out therapy and figure out your own issues. I did - and when he came back to me, I was more than willing and able to embark on a new beginning. I SWEAR - I was *EXACTLY* where you were about a year ago today. But TODAY, I am married (and *VERY* pregnant) to the man I was pining (yes, literally pining...) for. I would never have believed it, if it hadn't happened to me.

Glamour Girl

glammie . . . .

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 1:36pm
Thanks for your reply Glamour Girl--I've read some of your and your husband's posts here before, and was wondering if my situation was at all similar--its great to see someone else has been in this situation and had a happy ending!

So, if you don't mind me asking, what exactly did you do, while you were "pining" (as I am now)? Did you leave him alone and let it figure it out on his own, or did you keep trying to contact him? The one thing I worry about is the fact that the whole time he's been dating this girl he has not contacted me--i worry that he has forgot about me--but it sounds like maybe you learned that no contact doesn't necessarily mean he's forgotten!

I'd love to talk to you and hear more about your story some time!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 2:53pm
This is also probably not the advice you were looking. More musing over some of the facts that caught my attention.

"After thinking about it, I replied and told him that b/c I cared about him so much, it would be too hard for me to just be his friend, and therefore we probably shouldn't talk while he continued to date her."

Odd, since you seemed to continue to seek him out after you two had broken up. It wasn't painfull then? Or did it just become painfull at that time because you had finally opened up and shared your heart with him?

"The problem is, he too, is very vulnerable and scared of rejection and told me when we first broke up that he had never been hurt in his life like he was when we broke up and that he didn't ever want to go through that again. And I wonder if it is that fear of being hurt that keeps him from trying again with me?"

God YES!!!

If he had never been hurt in his whole life, then he had never opened up in his whole life. Which means he took his first (and possibly final) chance by opening up with you. He ended up with a severely broken heart over it. The odd think is that the reason you broke up, was that he didn't show enough "care" for you, when in reality you were the one showing no care for him.

That type of pain can close a man's heart for a very long time. Perhaps forever. By a strange twist of life, you may be the only women he will ever love. It's very possible that you are the only women he could never risk again. Since his love for you make him especially vulnerable to you. More than to any women he doesn't care for as much.

How's that for ironic?

"I think if anything he was scared of being hurt and of me still not having changed."

Ding, ding, ding! On the nose.

"I guess I'm just wondering if there's still any hope...if the fact that he wants to keep in touch despite his girlfriend asking him not to means something? Did I screw up by telling him not to talk to me while he's still dating her? Is there anything I can do to show him I really have changed and make him want to give me a second chance?"

Keep changing. Thearapy can take a long time to get out the root of the problems. Give it a few years. No contact for a long time, can deaden his pain. Perhaps all the hurt will fade and the love will stay. That can happen. Then you two may have a shot again. It takes *time*. Since you are 30, I'm not sure I can recommend waiting 5 years (which would be my suggestion). I'll have to go with Artie's advice and say "keep looking". There are plenty of other men out there. Out of 3 billion men on this planet, I'm sure you have the ability to connect to at *least* one more... :-)

Sorry I couldn't offer you more hope.

Brokk...

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 2:58pm
It's far too long, involved (and personal) to detail here. But if you really want to discuss it further, you can e-mail me at "missus_gogo@yahoo.com".

I don't guarantee a reply today. I have a *very* bad cold (the Doctor assures me it's not that fatal pneumonia!) and I'm headed to bed. I might be up to replying on Sunday.

Blessings and Peace

glammie...

glammie . . . .

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 3:18pm
I want to point something out...you believed he was "the one" back when you were insecure, lacking in self-awareness and acceptance.

Today - you're saying you're not those things. You've self-actualized, you've taken responsibility eternally for the emotional status quos of happiness, success and security as far as definition, achievement and maintenance.

So the guy you thought was so great back then....might easily be considered controlling now. Because back when you lacked self-esteem and needed constant reassurance (despite however you manipulated and controlled to get it) - he really did like that about you. That you weren't confident, weren't secure, you were in need...that gave him the upper hand in the relationship.

Great relationships are based in equality, mutual benefit, honest communication and both partners will be self-aware and self-accepting, with individually defined values, priorities, boundaries, goals, and interests....that are in alignment with each other without manipulation, control, or coercion. That's why those relatioships are great - this person is like you and so you can understand and trust them.

So...you wouldn't resume where you left off...with someone that adored you and worshipped you and was constantly reassuring you of his desire to be with you. Although that might be what would happen externally - rather than see it as the once much desired commodity you sought - you'd now consider it overkill, and an attempt at manipulation.

So....if he's not wanting to date you on your terms and start over....move on. I seriously doubt he was Mr. Right...I suspect he was Mr. Right Now based on your then needs, and then perception.

Erin

quickblade14@hotmail.com

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Registered: 03-28-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 6:07pm
Thanks for your response brokk. Its interesting to see a man confirm what I have long thought--that he still loves me but is not with me b/c he is so scared of being hurt again.

I too know what its like to be hurt that deeply by someone you love, but as my screen name implies, i think sometimes you have to take a chance, forgive and risk it all to gain it all. Knowing how hard it is to find real love in this world, it is not only ironic, but it frustrating as all he**, that we're not together not because he doesn't love me back, but b/c I f***ed up and he won't even give me a chance to prove I've changed. By refusing to forgive me, isn't he cutting off his nose to spite his face and denying both of us the happiness we could have together?? I can't believe that after almost two years he would still be carrying that much hurt and anger towards me...

I don't know what I can do to make him trust me again---I keep thinking if he's that hurt, its up to me to keep proving to him I won't do it again--that's what a female would want before she could trust again--to keep calling, keep showing him I care. But last time we talked he was extremely cold and that hurts too--it makes me feel like I mean nothing to him. But maybe you're saying is that the male perspective is different, that instead of wanting me to prove my love, the only way for him to get over the hurt and give me another chance is if I leave him alone??? That just seems so contrary to my natural inclination--I believe in fighting for what you want so I want nothing more to show up at his house and convince him I love him and will never, ever hurt him again--thinking maybe those are the words he needs to hear to hear.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 7:47pm
Title: Nope...if he is like most guys, that will only make it worse...

First, I want to say that I believe Doubleblade's post / advice below is important, though I know it isn't what you wanted to hear. If you really have changed / grown as a person, then you DON'T know that you all are still right for each other, because you've changed...and how you will relate to each other has changed as well. Add to that the amount of time that has passed, along with his now quite serious and no longer "new" relationship...and he has more than likely changed as well. You need to REALLY...no, but SERIOUSLY...review that reality in your mind, else your disappointment will deny you real happiness...you will never allow youself to move on, holding on to what can't be in the first place.

Now, having said that, just in case you all ARE meant to be (I mean, how can I rule out the possibilty given my own personal story?), the other thing you need to know it that this...

"That just seems so contrary to my natural inclination--I believe in fighting for what you want so I want nothing more to show up at his house and convince him I love him and will never, ever hurt him again--thinking maybe those are the words he needs to hear to hear."

...would be a big mistake. This makes you annoying, pushy, demanding and not all that different than the woman he broke up with, just from a different angle. A woman who doesn't listen...a woman who doesn't respect his desires.

IF he wants you back...he will come back...WHEN HE IS READY. Not on your timetable. The more you pull...the more he will pull back...thus his being "cold" recently after the two of you had established some rapport. You started pulling...he started pulling away.

For what it is worth, I missed GG terribly from the moment we broke up...and I wished the very best for her...but I didn't want her back until I could discern for myself...in my OWN JUDGEMENT...that she was getting on with her life. It was only then that I felt we could sort of "start anew"...that it was really ME she wanted to be with...versus just inertia from the previous relationship...or just not wanting to "lose" (I had begun dating someone else soon after our split).

Even after we got back togetehr, I still had to often admonish her to not PULL at me, trying to get things back to the way they were...or for a marriage proposal. It had to be when **I** was ready. And one day...I was. But I doubt I ever would had been if I had been asked to explain why I wasn't every week....or month.

Artie's advice was the best....even though I know first hand that reconcilation is possible. Let...him...go. Move...on. And if he comes back around...maybe you will be in love with someone else who is better suited for the new you (just a reminder again that I think Doubleblade has a point). But if you aren't...give it a try...why not? But be prepared for it to fail, just like any other new relationship. Because that is exactly what it will be...a new relationship, with TWO new poeple.

Good luck...

Avatar for mamma2my3sons
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 1:04pm
Most men like to feel in charge! Pushing the issue any more with him will only make you appear aggressive,(maybe even desperate)and push him further away. If he wants you back, he will come back for you without prodding. I'm not a big fan of reconciliations. Think they rarely work because the reason for the original split often eventually resurfaces.

As Artie, & Gogo suggested, I would get on with my own life (hard as that may feel right now.) If its meant to be someday, it will be.

Best wishes, Barbara

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